Downtown Dansville due for a makeover? $500K grant to impact Main Street housing, business

The village was awarded $500,000 from the New York Main Street Program, funds that will help transform buildings to add commercial space and residential units to downtown Dansville.

Chris Potter
The Evening Tribune

DANSVILLE — Downtown Dansville is due for a makeover.

The village was recently awarded $500,000 from the New York Main Street Program, funds that will go toward transforming a number of buildings in the downtown corridor. The projects will add viable commercial space and residential units to downtown Dansville.

“This is big for the village,” said Mayor Pete Vogt. “You need to make the downtown livable if you want to attract people to downtown. That’s what attracts business, if you’ve got people already living there. Those are people that don’t want to have to travel far to pick up groceries and things like that.”

The Livingston County Development Corporation applied for the funding through Round XI of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. Dansville property owners were receptive to investing in the program when county officials surveyed interest in late 2020.

“A good portion of the projects are usually mixed use — first-floor commercial use, whether it’s retail or a service business, and then a second-floor residential aspect. That’s the typical application, although it doesn’t have to be,” said Bill Bacon, Livingston County’s Director of Economic Development.

The Village of Dansville was recently awarded $500,000 from the New York Main Street Program, funds that will go towards transforming a number of buildings in the downtown corridor. The Maxwell Block Building, pictured here, is among the potential projects.

“We did a survey a while back that folks responded to and said if we were to have funding, we’d like to be considered for this type of project. That’s what you use to show you could hit the ground running. If you got the award you’ve got a whole pipeline of people ready to go.”

The results of the survey helped inform the Main Street Target Area. Projects must be located within this strip of downtown, which extends from 133-189 Main Street on the west side of the street, and from 142-178 on the east side of the street.

Vogt said renovations of the large Maxwell Block Building and the Canaseraga Building have long been on the village board’s wish list.

“Greg O’Connell owns the buildings and has partnered up with Phil Saunders. We have talked to them and they plan to put apartments upstairs and storefronts downstairs,” said Vogt. “Those are a couple buildings that have been neglected over the years. The previous owner made the minimal effort to comply with code.”

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While renovations can include facade restorations, Bacon said the major benefit of the program is the ability to transform the interior of commercial and residential units – some of which will be newly created, others that have long been vacant. The resulting increase in available housing options and commercial space aims to create lasting change in Dansville's central business district.

“This lets you get into the buildings if you’ve got some things you want to do inside, like making bathrooms upstairs for apartments and renovating the inside space,” said Bacon. “That’s what this money opens up for us. It can be used for basically anything on the building itself.

“The investment goes into the physical structures, which is a lasting investment. If a business were to come and go, this investment is still there in the building. Even if it transitions from one owner to the next, the investment is still there. It’s really about getting the buildings rehabbed.”

Properties within the Main Street Target Area in Dansville will be eligible for funding to add viable commercial space and residential units to downtown Dansville.

Bacon expects applications to be available by March. The exact program parameters have not yet been finalized. Past grants have featured a public-private split with the grant covering 75% of project costs and the property owner covering the remaining 25%.

Dansville previously was awarded Main Street funds in 2010 and 2014. Vogt said past funds aided renovations at the Sunrise Restaurant, the old K of C building and the Star Theatre, with benches and other improvements added to Main Street.

“I think it’s one of the best programs New York state offers in terms of reimbursement, flexibility and achieving what it sets out to achieve, which is to refurbish and rehabilitate some of those buildings in our downtowns that have fallen into disrepair,” said Bacon. “We’ve used it in every one of our nine villages in the county, some twice. This will be a third time for Dansville. It’s been a wonderful source of funds for us.”

Chris Potter can be reached at or on Twitter @ChrisPotter413. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.